How to Create a Professional Blog from Day One
This day in age it’s not as easy to get noticed as a blogger as it used to be. Back when the internet was fairly new there weren’t too many bloggers out there so growing organically was the best/only way to get traffic. It was also a lot more forgiving in the sense that your blog didn’t have to look super professional. You could have crazy colors, and fonts and poor quality photos. You could write about whatever you wanted and you didn’t have to have a niche. FYI, I was not a part of that group.
I’m a part of the new group of bloggers that grew up with the internet and social media. The group that probably saw other people with blogs and YouTube channels but didn’t quite understand how it all worked. This group has it much harder than the first group. The industry is a lot more saturated and choosing a niche is the least of your problems.
When I first started blogging I really wanted to succeed. Like REALLY wanted to succeed. So typical me started to do some research. Why is it that most blogs fail as a business?
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Sure it can all be circumstantial but for the most part I noticed that the overall reason that most blogs fail as businesses is because the bloggers themselves aren’t thinking of their blog as their business. They’re not thinking like PROFESSIONAL BLOGGERS. Maybe it’s just my love and knowledge of the law of attraction that helped me understand this concept but as soon as I realized this, it clicked. I mean, I hear it all of the time “In order to become (blank) I must think like (blank). I’m sure you’ve heard it too, but if you’re reading this now you probably haven’t really applied it.
Here’s the thing, being a professional blogger is not easy. It can be some pretty tough stuff. It’s a full time job aka 40+ hours. It’s making sacrifices for the future (ever heard of Return On Investment? We’ll get to that later.) It can be time away from family and friends. It’s not going out as frequently as you’d like. And it’s playing the long game. Unless you truly understand this from the beginning you’re not going to succeed. That’s just the truth of the matter. Especially in 2019.
So now that I’ve discouraged all of the half hearted bloggers out there, I’m going to encourage the ones that are still 100% in this. You can do this. It’s possible. The internet may be full of blogs in every possible niche you can think of, but you, you can stand out and be in-line with the more established bloggers from day one. Because you hav something to offer that these other bloggers don’t: Perspective.
You just need a little guidance.
How to Create a Professional Blog From Day One
(This post may contain affiliate links to products that I truly recommend, at no extra costs to you, if you decide you’re interested in anything mentioned. Feel free to check out the disclosure for more info.)
Make sure you’re investing in your future.
I’m not going to lie to you, if you’re trying to start a blog in 2019 or any year after that for that matter you’re going to have to dish some money out. Gone are the days where you can use free hosting and expect to grow. Sure if you really try you might become well known amongst a small blogging community but you don’t want that. You’re thinking big, remember?
Earlier when I mentioned Return on Investment? Yeah, this is where that comes in. Return on investment, or ROI for short, is a fancy way of talking about your benefit or gain from what you put in to your business (blog). So like any professional blogger you’d want your ROI to be greater than the actual investment in your blog. But how is that going to happen if you’re not actually investing anything? You have to spend money to make money.
Investing takes time, money, and energy. If you’re up to the challenge, let’s go!
First thing’s first YOU HAVE TO GO SELF HOSTED.
I don’t care what anyone else says, rarely are you taken seriously as a blogger if you don’t have a self hosted site. Now this isn’t to knock all of the people who are hosted through wordpress.com or blogspot.com or even squarespace.com. But realistically speaking, even if the content on my blog was the same, would you rather go to a site that says findinguphoria.wordpress.com or a site that said findinguphoria.com? What’s easier for readers to remember and come back to?
Paying for self hosting doesn’t have to be expensive, blog names are cheap and self hosting can be relatively inexpensive especially if the host platform has a deal. I personally host my site through siteground. It’s one I’ll always recommend. Not only is their customer support and response time is amazing whenever I have a problem (I always use their chat service), but if you already have a site hosted somewhere else (like I did) they will do a free domain transfer for you. Which is a hassle trying to figure out how to do yourself.
*When you go self hosted I recommend thinking about your domain name but not necessarily putting too much energy into it. The important part is that it’s simple and easy for readers to remember. When in doubt, use your personal name.*
Next you’re going to want to GET A PAID THEME.
Once again, invest in your future. Here you can be a little bit more flexible with how much you’d want to invest. I’ve seen paid themes from $12 – $120. The cost of the theme isn’t as important as the quality and what it offers. You have to consider what type of blog you have and what you need it to do and may need it to do in the future.
For example, my blog needed to have a beautiful yet simply layout. I wanted to be able to use headings, customize colors and fonts, have lots of widgets, have a shop, and support YouTube videos.
But instead of looking for all of that stuff from the beginning, I wasted money figuring out what theme was right for me because I didn’t consider what I actually needed my blog to do. At one point, I paid for a cheap theme that had little customization and wasn’t able to use headings and I needed to have headings to separate my content and make it easier to read. Then later, I paid for a not so cheap theme just because I saw someone else had it (don’t do this) and once again, it didn’t really fit my needs.
Finally after some research, I paid for a theme that was expensive for my tastes (I can be a cheap person sometimes) but had everything I needed and looked exactly how I wanted it to.
A word of advice, learn from my mistakes. Take your time choosing a theme, make sure it has everything you think you’ll need in your blogging career and that it’s one that you actually like. Almost all paid themes have live previews and I suggest you take full advantage of them.
*Make sure your theme is RESPONSIVE. That just means that everything looks just as good on a mobile device as a computer. Most people read blogs from their phones and speaking from experience it makes a reader less likely to stay on your site if they find it hard to navigate.*
Focus on CUSTOMIZATION AND CONTENT.
Who are your top 5 favorite bloggers? If you don’t have any I highly recommend that you go out and find some. Now, what do these bloggers have in common?
More than likely they have a beautiful design and original content. Professional bloggers don’t skip out on quality because they know it attracts an audience. We love pretty things. So make your blog pretty and make it your own.
Set up one or two colors that stay consistent throughout your blog. Add widgets that makes your content a little easier to access. Add your social media accounts. Take beautiful pictures with great lighting or find beautiful stock photos. Try to make sure your photos blend well together. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal reader and set your blog up in a way that would appeal to them.
Readers are drawn in by the pretty design but they stay for the content you provide.
Talking about your life on your blog may have been great in 2009 but times have changed. People go to blogs less and less to connect with people in that way. That’s what social media and YouTube are for. Now people use blogs to learn something. They want to get advice, or be shown a new product, or find a review or a how to… Basically to create a professional blog in 2019, your blog should be 20% about you and 80% about your audience and what you have to offer them.
The 20% that’s about you is for you to build a relationship with your readers. You want them to be able to relate to you and trust your advice and recommendations. The 80% is you providing valuable content. Not only should you provide valuable content but you should find ways to connect one piece of content to another. This could be by adding popular posts to your side bar on your blog, or even better, adding a related blog post within another blog post. If you go back to the beginning of this blog post you can see where I’ve already done that.
DON’T FORGET THE LEGAL STUFF.
Okay so now you know how to make your blog look great. You’re creating great relatable and helpful content. But possibly the most important part of having a professional blog is being able to stay connected with your readers. For bloggers, having your readers’ email addresses is still the best way to do that.
To collect emails you need to GET AN EMAIL MARKETING SERVICE.
Having an email marketing service is a godsend for building a relationship with your readers. Yes you can use it for email marketing and selling a product to them but in the beginning more than likely you don’t have a product to sell just yet.
So before creating a product to sell go ahead and sign up for an email marketing service. Use it to collect emails, and instead of selling a product use the service as an opportunity to give your audience a free opt-in. An opt-in is just a little incentive for your readers to give you their email. It used to be a lot easier to get people to put in their email addresses on your blog and subscribe to your newsletter but it’s just not enough anymore.
People want value. So give them a reason to sign up. Create a simple opt-in that provides value and is related to the content you blog about. For example, if you have a photography blog your opt-in could be exclusive photography tips. Or maybe you have a wellness blog. If so, your opt-in could be a self care worksheet. Look at what your blog is focused on and see how you can help your audience one step further.
As for deciding what service to use you’ll see a lot of pro bloggers talking about Convertkit. It’s definitely a great service, I’ve used it in the past, but I can show you one even better. I personally love Mailerlite because it can more or less do everything that Convertkit can do without the extra fee. Mailerlite is free for up to your first 1,000 subscribers and after that its pretty affordable.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of all of that, it’s time for promotion. You’d think that a lot of the blog work would be dealing with content but most of it is actually going to be dealing with promotion.
GET ON PINTEREST NOW.
Pinterest like google is a search engine. I wont go into too much detail about it because to use Pinterest to it’s full potential, it would take a separate detailed post dedicated to it or even a course. Just know that Pinterest is the key for many bloggers’ traffic growth.
As a blogger, after you write a blog post, you’ll want to create pretty images with a short description of your blog post that captures people’s attention. I prefer to use Canva to do this. You can then add the image to your blog and pin it on Pinterest. These images get pinned by other Pinterest users on their boards and gives you the opportunity to grow your blog traffic exponentially.
I started using Pinterest 2 weeks after starting my blog with no viewers. After consistently pinning my images and others’ images to different boards I grew my Pinterest account to over 60k monthly viewers in less than a month!
Don’t forget to USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO BUILD A COMMUNITY.
Don’t get so caught up in your own little blogging bubble that you forget to connect with your readers and other bloggers on social media. My favorite two places to do that are Twitter and Instagram. On Instagram you can get a lot more personal with your viewers with your posts and stories. I love Instagram stories because I can get a better glimpse into the everyday lives of the people that I’m following and vis versa. Being able to connect with viewers on a personal level will make them more invested in you and more likely to want to read your content.
Twitter on the other hand is great for connecting with other bloggers. Using hastags like #bloggerstribe and #bloggerswanted will get you connected with a lot of other bloggers FAST.
*You can connect your social media to your blog by adding social share links through widgets on your blog or by using plugins like Social Warfare. You can also include your blog links in your bio for apps like Instagram and Twitter.*
I know that was a lot if information at a time but I also know you’ll be able to some good use out of it. If you want to be a pro blogger you have to think like a pro blogger. If you found this useful don’t forget to share it!
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wow so much information love you!!!
This was really insightful! I found you on Pinterest while I was looking for workout. So glad it landed me here! ♥️